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Processionals and Recessionals

If it is a church wedding, sometimes the organ is the only way to get enough sound to make the Processional as dramatic as it needs to be.   I’d encourage you to use it for that, even if you’re having other types of music elsewhere.  Even in a wedding that’s not in a church, some of the tradition and meaning carries over.  So, what’s really happening in the Processional?  Why did I use the word “dramatic?” In any wedding, this music signals the beginning of the ceremony.  In a church wedding, it represents the gathering of people for worship, much the same as a Processional Hymn.  It symbolizes everyone coming together for an important event in our lives, the clergy, the guests, the participants.  There’s the added “fun” in that you try to make the Bride’s entrance something memorable.


For this reason, you’ll notice my choices don’t include “Canon in D” or “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”  Nice pieces, but they’re not processionals, they’re quiet, dreamy pre-service music.  Now, if you absolutely insist that your wedding party must enter to something sleepy and hypnotic like that.. sure, I’ll play it.  But I really do encourage a more assertive style for the processional.


Recessionals (and literally there is no such word because it means “walking backward” and you’re not going to do that) can be similar to Processionals, or they can be a little wilder.  It’s a happy moment, the wedding party and guests are exiting.


Corelli                                    Processional (Sonata IX)

Charpentier                            Te Deum

Dubois, Theodore                   Toccata

Haydn, F. J.                          St. Anthony  Chorale

Mathias, William                    Processional

Mendelssohn, Felix                Wedding March (“Midsummer Night’s Dream”)

Purcell, Henry                       Trumpet Tune,  Trumpet Voluntary

Stanley, John                        Trumpet Tune

Wagner, Richard:                   Bridal Chorus, Assembly March

Walton, William                     Crown Imperial

Wetzler, Robert                      Processional on “Westminster Abbey”

Widor, C. M.                          Toccata (Organ Symphony No. 5)

You can also use big arrangements of hymn tunes, such as “Now Thank We All Our God”, or “Ode To Joy” as processionals or recessionals.

Pre-Service Music 

Bach, J. S.                           Arioso, Air for the G String, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

                                           Little Preludes and Fugues

Callahan, Charles                  Blest Be The Tie That Binds Our Hearts, Partita on “Ode To Joy”

Cherwien, David                    The King of Love My Shepherd Is,  God is With Us, Beautiful Savior

Handel, G. F.                        The Faithful Shepherd, Suite from “Water Music”

Jenkins, Joseph                    Upon An Old English Tune,  Aria

Linker, Janet                         Suite on “O Waly, Waly” (The Gift of Love)

Lovelace, Austin                   Trio on “O Perfect Love”

Pachelbell, Johann                Canon in D

Rheinberger, Josef                 Fughetta in E-flat,  Cantilena

Vaughan Williams, Ralph        Rhosymedre (“Lovely”)

Widor, Charles Marie              “Adagio” (4th movement, Organ Symphony No. 5)


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